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Unread 02-09-2020, 07:21 PM   #1
Skyace777
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Suggestions for hollow tile repair of bad install

Hi all,

I’m a DIY homeowner and recently 16 or so tiles have become hollow in one area of my floor. 18x18 ceramic tile. You can see from the photos that mortar was laid in various directions and I even found a spacer that was just grouted over. My plan is to remove the hollow tiles, remove old mortar and replace with new spare tiles I have. Subfloor is concrete which appears nice and level. Didn’t think Fix-a-Floor would do such a good job in this large an area. I’ve used it before.

Looking for advice on how to best tackle this. Products, process, etc. Also in one of the photos you’ll notice a kind of adhesive tape underneath. What is that and is it needed/suggested?

Thanks!
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Unread 02-09-2020, 08:41 PM   #2
cx
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Welcome, Al.

What you appear to have there, to use a specific technical term, is a piss-poor floor tile installation.

Your plan is what's needed for the repair, but you might wanna consider that the rest of your tiles are very likely to suffer the same fate as the ones that have already come loose. Might this be a good time to consider a complete removal and replacement of that tile floor?

If you elect the repair instead, you'll need to mechanically chip or grind or both the existing thinset mortar, clean the concrete, and reinstall the tiles. You can use any decent thinset mortar for the job. If you shop at Home Depot I'd recommend Custom's Versabond thinset mortar. Reasonably priced, easy to work with, sufficient to the task.

I don't see anything in your photos looks like adhesive tape to me. You're talking perhaps of the gray looking material in the third photo?

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 02-10-2020, 07:52 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CX
What you appear to have there, to use a specific technical term, is a piss-poor floor tile installation.
Right outta the TCNA handbook!
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Unread 02-10-2020, 11:46 AM   #4
Skyace777
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Thanks for the quick reply, CX.

Yes I was pretty upset and frustrated with how the tile was installed. I bought the home and had it built new construction in 2011 and the builder apparently just used a cheap contractor. Ugh!!! In hindsight, I should have just hired my own flooring pro to do it right.

I've been considering just replacing the entire tile flooring but it would be fairly expensive (approximately 1,000 square feet) and flows into the kitchen and bathroom which would require removing or working around a fair amount of cabinets, baseboards, etc. I'm also possibly looking to sell and upgrade to a bigger home in perhaps the next couple years or so. Thus a dilemma...

Anyhow, to remove the old thinset mortar I have a good chisel to use with a mallet that seems to be working well. How would you suggest getting the concrete perfectly flat and clean after the chisel work is done? Use some kind of rough sanding block? Would a kind of floor primer be a good idea? Appreciate suggestions for this.

For new thinset mortar I picked up a bag of Mapei Ultraflex LFT from my local Floor and Decor store. How does it compare to the one you suggested? Should I rent/buy a mortar mixer or will a paddle on my 3/8" corded Milwaukee drill do the job?

For the repair there are a few cut tiles that are up against the baseboards and carpet. Can I just carefully remove these tiles, clean the back and reuse them or should I plan to cut tiles from the spares that I have? Also would I need to remove all the baseboards for the small area or can I just go close to it and recaulk?

Is there a preferred tile leveling system you can recommend?

Thanks!
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Unread 02-10-2020, 12:29 PM   #5
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I use an oscillating multitool with a carbide rasp in it to take down humps on small repairs. It works pretty quickly.
The freshly exposed and roughed up concrete shouldn't need any prep other than a vacuum and a wipe, but check for cracks.
The 3/8 corded drill might be a pain to hold at a lower rpm for mixing, but can work. Just keep an eye (hand?) on how warm it's getting.
If the tiles come up without breaking and are clean on the back, no reason not to reuse them. If theres just a small amount of mortar stuck here and there, I've used the same tool from above for cleaning them up. Just take a good look at the edges to make sure you didnt chip them during removal.
There should be a movement joint around the entire installation, typically a gap between the tile and drywall, covered by the baseboard. If this is the case, I would want to reinstall in the same manner. If they installed the baseboard first and then caulked to that, well, I'd do that as well, so it matched, but complain about it the whole time. Just dont butt the tile tight to either the wall or baseboard, or fill that space with grout.
I use the Home Depot LASH system, which I dont usually admit in public. It's the only one I've ever used, so I have little to compare it to. I use the pliers to install the wedges, and it's not difficult to over tighten and snap the clips, but easy enough to learn where that point is.
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Unread 02-10-2020, 05:59 PM   #6
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1. An angle grinder and diamond cup wheel would be my first choice of preparing that concrete for your replacement tiles. May not be necessary if your chiseling/scraping made it clean enough, but I can't see it from over here. May need nothing more than a rub brick.

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2. You may not need a LHT (Large and Heavy Tile) mortar such as that. You'll need to set your replacement tiles flush with the existing and that may want only a regular thinset mortar such as the Versabond I recommended. But if you do need more thickness to achieve your goal, that MAPEI mortar may work well.

Depends upon the "paddle" you have. What you want is something similar in shape to this. You do not want a drywall mud mixing paddle.

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3. You can certainly clean and reuse your tiles if they've come up intact.

4. None of those "leveling systems" do any leveling of anything. There are mechanical lippage control systems that can aid in reducing lippage between adjacent tiles, which is what I think you mean and they can be useful at times. In your application, however, I'm not sure they'll be of much help. You're gonna be trying to make your newly installed tiles flush with the surface of your existing tiles and those lippage control devices aren't gonna help with that. You'll be doing that with a long straight-edge, most likely a four-foot or longer level, and a good bit of patience.

The best lippage control systems with which I'm familiar are too expensive up front for a small repair job, but the ones that use wedges mentioned in post #5 above that are found at your local home center can be useful and might help in your application, especially if you find that you're needing a rather thick mortar bed to make your new tiles flush with the existing. And that is also a case where an LHT mortar, such as your Ultraflex LFT might be useful.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 02-11-2020, 11:58 AM   #7
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I checked my initial house construction photos and the baseboards were definitely installed before the tile was. Looks like they tiled up pretty close and then caulked (probably another corner cut since I believe it's best to tile first up to drywall and then install baseboards later). That being said can I just use a caulk stripper tool for those tiles against the baseboard and then carefully remove the tile? Or is a multi tool still recommended (seems like it could help with the mortar removal tool right)?

I ordered several rub bricks of varying grit from Amazon and will give that a go for final smoothing of the concrete.

I'll look into renting or buying a mixer and a paddle to play it safe and not burn up my older corded drill.

Yes I meant one of those systems with the wedges to reduce lippage and ensure a nice flat install. Around the outside of the repair work I'll have existing tile to compare/level to but most the tiles for the repair will be surrounded by other repair tiles. Maybe I'll try that QEP LASH system from Home Depot.

Any thoughts guys on that "tape" like adhesive strip under the floor from my last photo? What might it be and do I need to use it?

Appreciate it!
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Unread 02-11-2020, 12:23 PM   #8
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CX knows best but here's a beginner's perspective:

I got one of these to mix mortar and had pretty good luck with it: https://www.harborfreight.com/power-...ill-63112.html. I got the lighter one for $30 first but that one burned out quick. The gearing helps. Mixing in a 2 gallon pail is helpful too.

If you use the leveling clips, the edges of the tiles may line up but the tiles may not be level. You still need to lay a straight edge across the whole thing to make sure it's overly flat. Also you'd have to cut notches under old tiles if you want to use the clips around the perimiter of the repair. Would be simpler to just use a 48" level, finagle the tiles flat with your hands, and slide a plastic spacer across the edges to make sure they're even.

If you're worried, get a sheet of cement board, some spare mortar, and cheap tiles and do a practice setting. Home depo might give you the tiles for free if you find a box with chipped corners. See what works for you.
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Unread 02-11-2020, 04:08 PM   #9
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Al, I can't see enough of that gray material to give an accurate guess. Are we just seeing one edge of the material and it might be much wider than the narrow portion in your photo?

The only material that looks similar that I can imagine finding under a ceramic tile installation over a concrete SOG would be a crack isolation membrane, but that, to be effective as a partial isolation membrane in your case would need to be wider than four feet. That possible?
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Unread 02-12-2020, 02:47 PM   #10
jadnashua
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If it's a typical 2-3" wide tape, it's likely a cheap attempt at a crack isolation solution and not doing much of anything.
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Unread 02-12-2020, 05:49 PM   #11
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Looks like a peel and stick membrane. The peel and sticks I've seen are usually 12 inches and 36 inches wide. Of course they may have cut it down narrower.
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Unread 02-12-2020, 08:34 PM   #12
Skyace777
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Here is another picture of the adhesive. Maybe 4" wide and runs the length of several tiles I pulled up.
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Unread 02-20-2020, 11:33 AM   #13
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That strip was covering an expansion joint in the slab. How should I handle the repair there?
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Unread 02-20-2020, 12:23 PM   #14
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Al, that appears to me to be a sawn control joint rather than an "expansion" or construction joint, which is a good thing. Still, the more likely reason that your tiles didn't crack over that joint has more to do with your tiles not having been bonded than the slab never having cracked at the control joint. Sometimes luck is better than skill, non?

What can you do about it now? Nothing, really. The customary method of honoring such a joint, if you cannot put a tile grout joint directly above it, would be to put a crack isolation membrane at least 3 tiles wide over the joint and then honor the joint in the tile surface as close to the control joint as possible.

That ship has sailed for you unless you're willing to remove a lot of tiles. 'Bout all you can do with your repair is hope a crack never opens at that control joint.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 02-20-2020, 04:45 PM   #15
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Wouldn't it be nice if the installers actually read, followed, and understood the rationale of the instructions for products they're using? We'd have fewer failures. Part of this is from picking the lowest bid, some of it is from ignorance (but, you're paying for them to know their job!), some of it is just apathy.
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